Skip to contents
In This Issue:
Almost two decades ago, Genise Gibbs walked into BWH about to give birth to her first child. At the time, she faced an uncertain future, living in a shelter with no family to turn to for support.
Fast forward to last week, when a confident Gibbs stood before a packed audience—which included her five children and husband—to accept a BWH Ujima Award and describe how she has come “full circle,” thanks to the support of her nurses.
“The nurses cared for me 19 years ago as if I was part of their family. They became the closest thing I had to a family,” said Gibbs, who now works as a senior administrative assistant in the BWH Department of Rehabilitation. “The way the staff treated me then was the perfect example of the Ujima principle.”
Ujima is one of the seven principles of Kwanza, which celebrates family, community and culture. At BWH, the annual Ujima Award and celebration recognizes the contributions of multicultural members of the Nursing and Patient Care Services community.
“I now try to model my interaction with patients, families and colleagues after the way my Brigham family treated me all those years ago,” said Gibbs during last week’s fifth annual Ujima celebration, which paid special tribute to the Caribbean islands with culturally inspired music, dancing and cuisine.
In addition to Gibbs, Djwan Scott, BSN, RN, of the Float Pool, also received a Ujima Award.
“Djwan is relentless as an advocate for our multicultural patients,” said Cathy Rumble, MS, RN, nursing director, who nominated Scott. “She also takes extra time to serve as a mentor, not just at BWH, but also at UMass Lowell, where she is pursuing her nurse practitioner degree and is the diversity coordinator for the nursing program.”
Scott said it was an honor to receive the award and will continue to do her part and serve as a role model for others.
“I will encourage and advocate for the provision of culturally-sensitive care and carry on the rich legacy of Ujima,” Scott said.
The event’s keynote speaker was Loretta Sweet Jemmott, PhD, RN, FAAN, director and founder of both the Center for Health Disparities Research and the Center for Urban Health Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
Her work in HIV/AIDS prevention among African-American and Latino adolescents is internationally recognized, and her partnerships with clinics, schools and churches have resulted in the translation of her research findings into effective prevention programs in under-represented areas of Philadelphia and beyond. She spoke about “listening to the voices of the people” as the first step to understanding why people do what they do.
“Every one of us has the opportunity and duty to help reduce health care disparities,” she said, reflecting on the power of health care providers in eliminating disparities.